The Meloni government’s troubles

Perhaps Giorgia Meloni was expecting a quieter week to celebrate her first 100 days in government. Instead, she finds herself catapulted into what can be considered the first real problem of her experience at Palazzo Chigi. And complicating the picture is the time frame. That’s right, because the Donzelli-Delmastro affair has erupted precisely at the same time as the Prime Minister’s very delicate trip to Stockholm and, above all, to Berlin, to seek alliances on the migrant issue and on the relaxation of the stability pact for countries (like ours, ed.) with too high a debt, in view of next week’s European Council.

Despite the behind-the-scenes reports revealed by La Repubblica on Friday morning on the confidentiality of the documents obtained by Delmastro, which would frame the undersecretary of Justice, the Guardasigilli Carlo Nordio denied any alleged secrecy of the dossiers relating to the meetings of prisoner Alfredo Cospito, on hunger strike against the 41-bis. If, therefore, from an institutional point of view, pending new investigations, Donzelli’s statement in Parliament, instigated by Delmastro, is likely to turn out to be a heavy gaffe and nothing more, the own goal from a political point of view is difficult to deny. The embarrassment has induced Meloni to close herself in a “deafening” silence, on the one hand because the protagonists of the affair are two of her long-standing associates who cannot be easily sacrificed without undesirable counter-effects within the party. On the other because Donzelli’s actions have revitalized and recompacted the opposition and given an argument to those who criticise the country’s first party of having an incisive leadership and a lack of institutional preparation. Meloni’s silence was only broken by a brief eight-minute telephone intrusion in the program Stasera Italia on Rete4, during which the PM glossed over the responsibilities but reaffirmed his government’s hard fist on 41-bis. And even this stance did not fail to create destabilisation: anarchist and militant left-wing groups set in motion all over the country, announcing mobilisations, occupying University faculties (Letters at the Sapienza) and making themselves heard in the gazettes all over Italy. The result: Delmastro and Andrea Ostellari, the Lega Undersecretary for Justice, were put under protection. In short, the political balance of this querelle is heavy for the government.

The Cospito affair has, moreover, rekindled the spotlight on the age-old issue of the 41-bis regime, better known as the “hard prison”. Introduced “temporarily” in 1986 and then extended as a reply to the Falcone and Borsellino attacks, the measure in question is now part of our penitentiary system and has been one of the most widely used tools to fight organised crime and terrorism for over thirty years. Despite this, the institution has always been quite debated and controversial due to the nature of its restrictions, which are particularly severe, and judged by many jurists to be unconstitutional or contrary to the prohibition of torture. Part of this debate has also been fuelled over the years by the European Union’s concerned assessment of 41-bis. In particular, two judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), issued between 2018 and 2019, have highlighted its in conformity with the article of the European Convention on Human Rights prohibiting inhuman or degrading treatment. Despite everything, however, the government’s line at the moment is clear: 41-bis is not on the table. It will be interesting to see if the debate will trigger a new political strategy.

And to think that without these controversies the week could have ended with good news for the government: the approval of the reform on differentiated Autonomy in the CdM. A regulation that, although reworked with respect to the initial version written by Roberto Calderoli and although it has to go through a complex parliamentary process with the declared opposition of the center-left, on a political level consolidates the FdI – Lega axis and represents a useful electoral latch in view of the next regional elections, especially in Lombardy.

The electoral appointment, at this point, takes on considerable political importance. In light of what is happening, in fact, it can be considered a first real test of government.